Eid al Fitr celebrates end of Ramadan fasting, gift of self-control
- Eid al Fitr celebrates end of Ramadan fasting, gift of
By Mr. Aziz Junejo
The three-day celebration called Eid al Fitr, which
marks the end of the month of Ramadan, has been to me
what I imagine Christmas or Hanukkah is to others of
the Abrahamic faiths.
Eid al Fitr is one of two equally major holidays for
Muslims around the world, the other being Eid al Adha,
the celebration that marks completion of the annual
Hajj in Mecca. With the sighting of the new moon in
the western sky just after sunset one night this
coming week, Ramadan will end and Eid will begin.
During Eid, Muslims not only celebrate the end of
fasting but thank God for the help and strength he
gave them throughout the previous month to practice
self-control as a form of worship.
On the first morning of Eid, we wake up early and take
long baths, preparing ourselves for prayers with extra
perfume and fragrances. We usually have a light snack
before going to prayer, as fasting is forbidden on
this special day.
A payment of Zakat al Fitr charity for the poor
which is a pillar of Islam, is required of every
Muslim before Eid prayer. The man of the house must
pay for the immediate members of his family, and this
money is usually given a week or two before the end of
Ramadan so it can be distributed to the needy, thus
ensuring that they will have a joyful Eid celebration.
As my father did when I was young, I drive my family
in one vehicle to the Eid prayer, which is usually
staged at a venue large enough to serve 15,000-20,000
Muslims from throughout the Puget Sound area. This
year, it will be at the former Sand Point Naval
Those who have to work usually pray at their local
mosque around 7:30 in the morning, but the majority of
Muslims will attend the one-hour, areawide service at
9 a.m. We and many others bring our own prayer rugs
and wear ethnic clothing, which reflects the
cosmopolitan mosaic of our Muslim community here in
For me, the best part comes just after the Eid sermon,
when each person stands up and hugs the person next to
him or her, and then hugs another, and then others
still people we may not know personally but
recognize as our brethren in faith, embracing them and
wishing them a blessing of "God be with you."
For me this is the real spirit, the essence of Eid
rich or poor, black, white or brown, we have all
fasted together, prayed together, and finally shown
our love for each other, strictly for the pleasure of
After the prayers, everyone returns home to celebrate
the holiday. The house has been decorated the night
before, and everyone is still wearing their Eid
attire. It isn't common for children to receive gifts
on Eid, but rather gifts of money called "Eidii,"
usually in the form of a brand-new bank note. The
amount is small, but when collected all day from mom
and dad, uncles and aunts, friends and neighbors, it
amounts to plenty.
This year after prayers, we will prepare all kinds of
ethnic foods, inviting all my relatives for a feast
that will last all day. Our children will play and be
entertained, as relatives sit around our house with a
blazing fire in the fireplace, eating and exchanging
wonderful and relaxing conversation all day and into
We will visit friends at their houses, too. And as we
share foods from many cultures, we also will share the
joy of having endured a month of hunger and
self-control, of having practiced good manners, good
speech and forgiveness, and of making amends as
obedience to the one God.
Aziz Junejo is host of "Focus on Islam," a weekly
cable-television show, and a frequent speaker on
Islam. He and four other columnists Pastor Mark
Driscoll, the Rev. Patrick J. Howell, Rabbi Mark S.
Glickman and the Rev. Patricia L. Hunter take turns
writing for the Faith & Values page. Readers may send
feedback to faithpage@...
Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company
Ramadan: The month of self-purification
By Bill Schaefer - Journal Photographer
POCATELLO - On a cool October as the sun begins its
slow descent below the horizon against the misty gray
skies of Pocatello, a group of people begin to gather
inside two back rooms of a small, wood frame house on
South Fifth Street.
These small, sparse rooms have been converted into a
Mosque. They represent the center of worship for
Southeast Idaho's Islamic community. Muslims from
Roberts, Rexburg, Idaho Falls and Blackfoot come to
worship here in Pocatello. They are a melting pot of
cultures, from Pakistan, Palestine, Iraq, Malaysia,
all over the world. They are students, teachers,
doctors, engineers, wives and mothers, coming together
to celebrate their faith.
Tonight is a special evening for these individuals and
families. As they enter, one entrance for men, one
entrance for women, they bring pots and pans of food
to celebrate another day's fast that will come to an
end at sunset.
This is Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic
calendar. It is the most revered month in Islam
because Muslims believe that Allah (God) revealed the
first verses of the Quran to Muhammad at this time.
According to Islamic lore, while wandering the desert
near Mecca, Muhammad heard the voice of the angel
Gabriel, who told him that he had been chosen to
receive the word of Allah. In the following days,
Muhammad found himself speaking the verses that would
be transcribed as the Quran.
To commemorate this most sacred of occasions Muslims
practice sawm, or fasting, for the entire month of
Ramadan. Muslims will not eat or drink anything,
including water, while the sun shines. Fasting is one
of the Five Pillars of Islam. It is estimated that
there are currently more than one billion Muslims.
This Saturday evening the Islamic community at the
Pocatello mosque numbers about 40. Greeting one
another, saying, Assaalaama Alaikum, translated as
May the peace of God be upon you, and responding
with Wa Alaikum Saalaam, And the peace of God unto
Fasting serves as a bond among Muslims worldwide. It
is seen as a way to practice self-control and to
cleanse and purge the body and mind, creating a
communal bond that serves to strengthen their faith.
During Ramadan families get up at pre-dawn to eat
suhoor, the meal before sunrise. After sun sets, the
fast is broken with a meal called iftar. Ramadan ends
with the festival of Eid al-Fitr on Nov. 4.
Tonight, as the end of the fast nears, you hear a
hungry voice asking, What time is it, is it time
yet? Then when the sun's final rays have diminished
and night has fallen, one man stands in a corner of
the room and summons the community to prayer. Facing
east, toward Mecca, they pray, reciting verses from
the Quran, standing, then kneeling, then prostrating.
After prayers are completed, a bowl of dates is passed
around, one or two taken by each person, then a
tablecloth is spread out on the floor and quickly a
wide selection of foods as varied as the world of
Islam appears. Pita bread, kebobs, goat meat,
meatballs, chicken, tabouli, rice, custard and fruits
were just a small sample of the cuisine
As soon as the food is set out, all the men sit around
the perimeter of the table cloth, helping themselves
and serving others. The air is filled with the spicy
smell of foods from around the world and the talk of
the day's events, local and worldwide. The shared
experience of fasting and the communal meal serve to
strengthen the bonds within this microcosm of Islamic
culture. Sunrise tomorrow will bring another day of
As Ramadan ends Muslims give to charity
This year has provided plenty of opportunities for
Saturday, October 29, 2005
By HAFSA AMIN
STATEN ISLAND ADVANCE
Now that the holy month of Ramadan is nearing its last
few days, Muslims will be digging deep into their
pockets in order to give zakat, or charity, to the
Due to the recent natural disasters -- close to home
and around the world -- Muslims have many places to
offer their charity, either to help those who lost
their homes because of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita or
Wilma, or to the millions of people left homeless
because of the earthquakes in Pakistan.
"In Ramadan, Muslims place greater importance on
helping others and sharing. This is the month where
Muslims try and grab last-minute rewards from God by
giving charity," says Alla Ahmed, an imam from Egypt
who is visiting the Masjid Al Noor mosque in Concord
to give lectures about Islam.
Zakat, along with fasting, is one of the five pillars
of the Islamic faith, the others being belief in one
God (the Shahada), daily prayers (the Salah), and
performing pilgrimage to Mecca (the Hajj).
According to Tahir Kukiqi, imam of the Albanian
Islamic Cultural Center, there are three different
forms of charity.
Zakat Al Fitr is an obligatory charity that must be
given during Ramadan.
Zakat Al Mehr is also an obligatory charity that can
be given any time during the year.
"This is 2.5 percent of one's savings that have
matured over the past 12 months," explained Kukiqi.
"It can be given during any time of the year but
Muslims choose to pay it during Ramadan because the
rewards from God are doubled."
Muslims also offer Sadaqah, a voluntary charity that,
depending on one's income, can be as simple as a meal
or given as gifts to other people or charities.
"Zakat is a personal religious obligation. Muslims
believe that every poor person has a right in our
wealth therefore we must give zakat," said Tarek
Moustafa, a New Springville resident who visits Masjid
Al-Noor for his daily prayers. "If we do not, we are
denying the poor their wealth."
During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast during the
daylight hours and refrain from any form of food,
liquids, tobacco, gum, and sexual relations.
Meher Jan of Sunnyside has made an extra effort to
give zakah during Ramadan ever since she started
earning her own money.
"The spiritual essence of Ramadan is not just about
fasting and praying, it is also about giving charity
by giving back to the community," said Ms. Jan, adding
that she offers her zakat to the Muslim Majlis of
Staten Island, the organization that runs the Concord
mosque. The money is then forwarded to various charity
For Moustafa, Ramadan is a beautiful holiday and
giving zakat is a compulsory rule from God.
"It's like when you get a new computer, to set the
system correctly you have to follow the guidelines
provided," he said. "It's the same in Islam. If you
follow God's rules you will get the final rewards."
Hafsa Amin is a news reporter for the Advance. She may
be reached at amin@....
More on Eid at:
More on Ramadan at:
More on Zakat at: